It’s the constant plight of the reader to be beset on one side by a never-diminishing TBR pile of backlist books and on the other by an ever-growing cache of enticing new releases. In 2020, my goal is to make a sizable dent in my library of unread buys from the past several years and, also, to somehow fit in most (if not all) of these upcoming titles.
I’m sure I’ve missed a few and I’m certain that this list will grow (it only covers through July, alas!), but here’s a quick rundown of the 2020 releases I’m especially psyched to get my hands on.
UNCANNY VALLEY: A MEMOIR by Anna Wiener (January)
I read very few memoirs, but this January title — an account of the millennial author’s experience ditching a job in book publishing (the SACRILEGE) and moving to Silicon Valley to enter the starry and lucrative startup scene — looks to be an eye-opening (and probably terrifying) look at greed, privacy, and the sinister impact of the digital age.
Published by MCD (US January 14) Buy it here.
4th Estate (UK January 14) Buy it here.
HarperCollins Australia (Australia January 20) Buy it here.
TOPICS OF CONVERSATION by Miranda Popkey (January)
An early-year release and a debut novel, this one’s told through a conversation-style structure and explores themes of womanhood, desire, and pain. It’s giving me Three Women by Lisa Taddeo and Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill vibes. The latter was a five-star read for me, so I’m excited to dive into this one. And speaking of Jenny Offill…
Published by Knopf (US January 7) Buy it here.
Profile Books/Serpent’s Tail (UK February 27) Preorder here.
Allen and Unwin (Australia March) Preorder here.
WEATHER by Jenny Offill (February)
I can’t wait for this one! If it’s anything like Dept. of Speculation, Weather is pretty much a guaranteed slam-dunk for me. Without having read it myself (and without doing a straight copy-and-paste of the synopsis), it sort of defies explanation — but the short of it is that it’s a complicated family drama centering on a character named Lizzie Benson, who’s a librarian by day and a fake therapist by, well, the rest of the time. I’m psyched. Pun intended.
Published by Knopf (US February 11) Preorder here.
Granta (UK February 13) Preorder here.
Allen and Unwin (Australia March) Preorder here.
APEIROGON by Colum McCann (February)
One early review likens reading Apeirogon to reading David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas (one of my all-time favorite books) for the first time. Sold. But really: this novel by National Book Award-winner Colum McCann is about the friendship between two men — one Palestinian, one Israeli — and how their lives and relationship change when both their children are killed.
Published by Random House (US February 25) Preorder here.
VERGE: STORIES by Lidia Yuknavitch (February)
Let me tell you: nothing gets my literary sensibilities going more than a short story collection that’s full of the weird, wonderful, strange, and fantastical — and that’s exactly what Verge promises to be. Billed as a “viscerally powerful and moving survey of our modern heartache life,” Verge has earned early praise from the likes of Vogue and includes stories exploring the effects of trauma, the plight of outcasts, and the power of imagination.
Published by Riverhead Books (US February 4) Preorder here.
THE BASS ROCK by Evie Wyld (February)
I read and loved Evie Wyld’s wonderfully strange All the Birds, Singing back in 2015, and I can’t wait to dive into more of her dark themes and twisty language in The Bass Rock. A chronicle of the interconnected lives of three women from different centuries — Sarah, an 18th-century Scottish witch; Ruth, a post-war newlywed; and Viv, a young lady from the turn of the century who’s just lost her grandmother — The Bass Rock sounds like a modern-day ghost story. And I’m here for it.
Published by Pantheon (US September 1) Preorder here.
Jonathan Cape (UK March 26) Preorder here.
Penguin Books Australia (Australia February 4) Preorder here.
THE GLASS HOTEL by Emily St. John Mandel (March)
I didn’t love Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven, but I liked it enough to be excited about her work in general. I’m curious to see what The Glass Hotel’s all about; it’ll likely determine whether or not I pick up any of her writing in the future. As for the summary, this seems like a similar sort of interconnected-characters-and-narratives situation, featuring a couple named Vincent and Jonathan, a Ponzi scheme run by the latter, and the disappearance of the former. Color me intrigued.
Published by Knopf (US March 24) Preorder here.
THE CITY WE BECAME by N.K. Jemisin (March)
I’ve had sci-fi icon N.K. Jemisin’s mammoth The Inheritance Trilogy on my shelf for actual years. 2020 might be when I finally get to it, but it’s looking more likely that my big science fiction read of the next 12 months will be The City We Became, the premier installment in a new series from the author that’s about five New Yorkers banding together to save the iconic city. Sounds a tad like The Umbrella Academy to me — but even if it’s not, I’m in.
Published by Orbit (US March 24) Preorder here.
(UK March 26) Preorder here.
(AUS March 31) Preorder here.
MY DARK VANESSA by Kate Elizabeth Russell (March)
My Dark Vanessa’s on all the lists. Suspenseful and psychological, it’s the story of an affair between a teen and her teacher, and it’s described as Emma Cline’s The Girls meets Emma Donoghue’s Room. Really curious about this one.
Published by William Morrow (US March 10) Preorder here.
Fourth Estate (UK March 10) Preorder here.
HarperCollins (Australia March 9) Preorder here.
THESE GHOSTS ARE FAMILY by Maisy Card (March)
This Jamaican-set debut novel is drawing comparisons to Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing (which I loved). It tells the story of the Solomon family — specifically the patriarch, who’s spent three decades keeping a life-altering secret from his loved ones — and charts their journey through the generations from their home country to Harlem. I don’t know about y’all, but I LOVE me a good family drama. Can’t wait.
Published by Simon Schuster (US March 3) Preorder here.
(UK February 3) Preorder here.
(AUS May 1) Preorder here.
THE EVERLASTING by Katy Simpson Smith (March)
Set in Rome across four different centuries (do we see a theme yet with the sorts of books I like?), The Everlasting has big ol’ buzz and, by all accounts, big ol’ epic scope. It’s a historical fiction work that follows a quartet of characters (a child martyr, a medieval monk, a Medici princess, and a field biologist), and it apparently involves an “omniscient, time-traveling Satan.” Cool. I tend to really get into the multiple narrative structure, so I can’t wait to dive into this one.
VALENTINE by Elizabeth Wetmore (March)
“How is this a debut novel??” seems to be the general consensus among early reviews of Valentine, a 1970s-Texas-set novel about race, class, and crime centered around the violent attack of a 14-year-old girl named Gloria Ramírez. It’s told through alternating points of view, and it’s shaping up to be one of the most highly anticipated books of the year.
Published by Harper (US March 31) Preorder here.
GODSHOT by Chelsea Bieker (April)
I feel like I’ve been seeing the gold-flecked cover of Godshot all over #bookstagram for forever. Everything about this novel is right up my alley, from the dystopian vibes to the existential crises to the feminist themes, and the cult storyline is naturally drawing comparisons to Emma Cline’s The Girls — one of my favorites of recent years.
PEW by Catherine Lacey (May)
Catherine Lacey’s 2014 novel Nobody is Ever Missing tells the story of a young woman who suddenly buys a one-way flight to New Zealand to escape some demons. Girl, same (I did that in 2012) — so in other words, I can relate. I’m looking forward to seeing if I resonate with Pew in a similar fashion, and if the early praise (Vogue, Vulture, The Millions) and the summary (a mysterious person later dubbed “Pew” shows up asleep on a church bench in the American South and proceeds to cause unrest and dissent) are anything to go by, I’ll be in luck.
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (US May 12) Preorder here.
Granta (UK May 14) Preorder here.
THE VANISHING HALF by Brit Bennett (June)
I gave five stars to Brit Bennett’s much-praised 2016 novel The Mothers, and The Vanishing Half sounds like it’s got the ingredients to follow in its predecessor’s footsteps. A story about identical twin sisters who “ultimately choose to live in two very different worlds,” it’s a family drama of race, fate, and history that crosses the U.S., from the South all the way to California.
Published by Riverhead (US June 2) Preorder here.
I HOLD A WOLF BY THE EARS by Laura van den Berg (June)
Laura van den Berg is known for her short stories — and while I have yet to read any of her collections, I did read her debut novel Find Me. I can’t say I loved it, but it was certainly memorable, and I Hold a Wolf by the Ears sounds all sorts of creepy and trippy and reminiscent of Karen Russell and Carmen Maria Machado, with tales of death, violence, and twisted femininity. Sign me up!
A PECULIAR PERIL by Jeff VanderMeer (July)
I’ve done a lot of talking about Jeff VanderMeer and his strange and wondrous writing in my pieces on this website, so naturally, I’m super psyched for his July foray into the world of YA. A Peculiar Peril is the first in a young-adult duology (titled The Misadventures of Jonathan Lambshead) about a kid who inherits his grandfather’s house and, Narnia-style, discovers another world.
TRANSCENDENT KINGDOM by Yaa Gyasi (July)
Yaa Gyasi made giant literary waves with 2016’s Homegoing (for good reason), and Transcendent Kingdom looks to do the same. The story of a Ghanaian family living in the American South, this book explores loss (the main character’s brother dies of an overdose and her mother is suicidal), faith (the allure and hypocrisy of evangelism), and redemption, and I’m already thinking it’ll be one of my favorite reads of the year. Here’s hoping my expectations aren’t too high!
Published by Knopf (US September 8) Preorder here.
Penguin Random House (UK September 15) Preorder here.
Random House (AUS September 15) Preorder here.